Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Attractions in Philadelphia Feature: Magic Gardens

My name is Sonia Panchal and I am a first year student at Salus University in the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Living so close to Philadelphia means there is never a dull weekend. There is so much to explore--cool restaurants, interesting museums, historical sites, and the whole center city area to name a few things. This city is filled with many attractions that are perfect for college and graduate students. 

One of my favorite sites I have visited in Philadelphia is Magic Gardens located on South Street. It is an entire three city lot- span of unique artwork created by the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The site consists of both an indoor gallery and a large outdoor mosaic “maze” with staircases, walls, and arches made entirely of various mosaic tiles and objects. I recommend going on a warm sunny day so you can appreciate how incredible the outdoor mosaic is put together.

Magic Gardens is a popular tourist site, especially in the summer when they host movie nights, socials, and lavish ticketed events with live bands and food. You could spend a good few hours here just looking at all of the mosaics pieced together with unique objects such as kitchen utensils, parts of bikes, dishware with Latin American art, and other colorful items placed on the walls. Many people come to take pictures in front of the art and look for hidden words and symbols on the tiles.

Another bonus of visiting this unique art exhibition is that Magic Gardens offers student discounts! ($8.00 admission if you present your student ID). I highly recommend checking it out!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Day in the Life: Doctor of Audiology First Year Graduate Student

My name is Marisa Fassnacht, and I am first-year student in the Salus University Osborne College of Audiology. I went to Temple University for my undergraduate school and received a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. Fortunately, I knew that I wanted to study audiology going into college. 

I have been involved in audiology almost my entire life. I was born with a growth called a cholesteatoma in my left ear in front of my eardrum. It was not found until I was about 7 or 8 years old. I had one surgery to remove the growth, and a second to put prosthesis in place of the bone that I lost. Since then, I have always wanted to become an audiologist. My main goal is to help children who may be experiencing hearing difficulties like I have in the past. I want to relate my story to them, so they will feel comfortable sharing their worries and triumphs with me while growing and developing with their hearing disabilities.

So now that we are properly acquainted, let me bring you into a day in the life of a first-year Doctor of Audiology graduate student.

6:30 a.m. I usually start off the day by pressing the snooze button about three times. 

7:00 a.m. I check my phone, going through my Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and e-mail.  Then, I roll out of bed (finally) and get myself together.

7:30 a.m. Breakfast!  Probably my favorite thing to make besides eggs benedict – Ezekiel toast with avocado and an over-easy egg on top. While cooking my egg, I pop a K-Cup into my Keurig and select the biggest cup setting possible (because coffee=survival).  I re-check my class schedule on Typhon (our online clinical scheduling portal) just to make sure nothing has changed. After this, I relax while I eat and watch an episode of Friends on Netflix (my favorite TV show ever). 

7:50 a.m. After inhaling my breakfast, it’s time to pack up and head out to school. I always make sure I have my ID, laptop, lunch and coffee before I leave the house. I commute to school, so I always try to give myself about 45 minutes to get to there. My route to school is pretty easy; thankfully, I don’t have to take any major roadways. 

8:20 a.m. I arrive at school and grab a great parking spot right in the front. If you get to school any later than 10 a.m., you either have to park in “Guam” or tail anyone that looks like they’re pulling out of a spot. 
I like to get to campus early to give myself time to drop off my lunch in my locker, get to the classroom and set up my laptop. When I get situated, I pull up the lecture needed for the class and chat with my friends.

9:00 a.m. Class time - from now until 11:00 a.m., I’m in Molecular and Cellular Processes.

11:15 a.m. I’m just hanging in the classroom doing some school work or a collaborative study, as well as eating lunch with my friends. We’ll stay here until we have to head to lab or clinic.

12:45 p.m. I’m heading over to the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) for clinical. From now until about 5 p.m., I’ll be observing and interacting with patients in their hearing appointments with my faculty preceptor. 

5:00 p.m. Time to head home, but first: traffic!

5:45: Dinner time! Honestly, it’s my favorite part of the day. I love coming home after a long day to a great home cooked meal and hanging out with my parents. It’s nice to catch up and see how their days were.

6:15 p.m. I get changed into comfy clothes and start another round of homework and studying. Homework and studying takes about four to five hours depending on my upcoming schedule of assignments combined with exams.

11:30 p.m. *Belly flops onto bed because my bed is the greatest thing ever, and I missed it!* At this point, I’m exhausted and ready to go to sleep. I settle in, check my social media for a little, and watch some vlogs and tutorials on Youtube of one my favorite Youtubers (Sarah Day, Jaclyn Hill, Chelsea Trevor, and Danielle Mansutti to name just a few). I think about upcoming classes, clinic and assignments, but then I feel my eyelids getting heavy and I’m out. Grad school will do that to you!

Friday, September 8, 2017

To a New Beginning in Healthcare, Our First Steps

Orientation in the Hafter Center
I wanted to come to Salus University since I was 14 years old with a dream of becoming an optometrist. With eight years of anticipation and diligent preparation, orientation week began. It took a solid hour just to choose an outfit for the first day. Even though orientation started at 8:30 am, I, along with numerous others, arrived before 7:30 am. We waited in our cars anxiously for someone to get out and walk in first. As we walked in, I could feel the excitement and nervousness in the air.

What should have been an hour wait, felt like mere minutes. Students poured into the Hafter Center dressed professionally and ready to become graduate students of a heath profession. Dr. Michael H. Mittelman, President of Salus University, greeted us and offered inspirational advice on becoming great healthcare professionals. He stressed empathy, which I found to be a very insightful tip that I hadn’t previously considered.

Dave & Buster's in the
Plymouth Meeting Mall
Orientation week was full of resources meant to aid us in our preparation for our respective fields. This included a resource fair full of clinics, banks, information on The Eye Institute, Learning Resource Center, and military programs. We had a session on financial planning that opened my eyes into the world of investing and reminded us to still live like students the first few years out of school. We were also introduced to budgeting apps and debt calculators. I found the session on cultural awareness to be very interesting and insightful. Coming from a rural town in Pennsylvania, I was not used to much diversity, while Philadelphia is rich in other cultures. This session went over how to be sensitive to patients and intuitive to the various cultures one encounters when working in the healthcare field.

While it was nice to spend our days in orientation, it was wonderful having the after-orientation events. These included trivia and a trip to Dave and Busters. I was quite worried for trivia, as it was entitled, “Pop Culture Trivia” and I know very little to nothing about this topic. All and all my team didn’t do too shabby. It was a great way to interact with our classmates and make some new friends. Dave and Busters was a great time too -- their Dance Dance Revolution machine was far harder than we had anticipated but we made it out alive. Just as my card ran out, I miraculously hit 1,000 tickets. It was a nice end to a long day!

President Mittelman speaking at
theWhite Coat ceremony
While orientation week was exciting, I was itching to start classes. But first, we had the White Coat Ceremony. This year it was held in the Kimmel Center in Center City, Philadelphia. This was the first time I had taken a subway into Philadelphia, but alas, I made it unscathed. The venue was absolutely beautiful, with glass windows surrounding us and wood paneling coating the theater. The ceremony was very inspirational as it welcomed us into the world of health professionalism. With our white coats on, we recited in unison the Oath to Professionalism. It felt like a graduation in a sense, like we were ready to take on the world. In reality, we are just getting started to take on the challenges of graduate school. It was a great way to begin our new journey! 

White Coat Ceremony
at the Kimmel Center

 ~ Sabrina is a first year optometry student at Salus University

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summertime in Philly

Photo Credit:
Summertime on campus has been refreshing in comparison to the hustle and bustle of fall and spring semesters. The whole campus has seemed to quiet down, with everyone more relaxed and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Another great perk of being in the area are all the activities going on in Elkins Park and Center City, Philadelphia. Summertime is a great opportunity to get outside and truly explore your new home!

A new summertime favorite of mine has been exploring the parks and hiking in the area. Just last weekend, I was able to make a trip down to Delaware to Brandywine State Park. Fortunately we had great weather, and hiked both Saturday and Sunday for a total of 8 miles! If traveling to Delaware seems too far, it is always great to check out things we have in our own backyards like Valley Forge. In addition to learning about American history, there are running and hiking trails galore. The park is huge, and you can also explore by car. When I went, it ended up raining so I was able to tour around the park in my car while listening to a “cell phone tour”. It was a great activity for a rainy day. If you’re looking for something even closer to home, Elkins Park and Cheltenham have a great system of public parks for walking or running.
Another great aspect of summertime in Philly is all the wonderful concerts and talented musicians who come to town. Philly has great venues perfect for any genre of music. On my list to check out this summer are the Mann Center, World Café Live, and The Electric Factory. Each of these venues offers something unique and brings in great talent. The Mann Center for example is bringing Harry Potter to life at the end of July with the Philadelphia Orchestra. With lawn seating available, most concerts are reasonably priced and not to be missed!
Photo Credit:
Lastly, Philadelphia is a great city for beer lovers! Philly has a beer garden for everyone that each offers a unique experience. It’s a great way to be outside and enjoy a cold one. With so many options, there is always a new place to check out and explore with your friends.

No matter what you decide to do, the Philly area has something to offer to anyone. So take a break from school when you can, and get out there to explore!

-Elisa is a second year audiology student at Salus University

Friday, April 28, 2017

Work Study Program

As I was starting to look into graduate school, one of the most daunting things to take into consideration was the cost. While it’s very common for graduate students to take out loans to cover the cost of their education, it can still be an overwhelming process, especially when you realize how much debt you will inevitably accumulate by the end of your time in any health profession graduate school. My mind was put at ease during orientation our first week at Salus University, when we were given a presentation on how to manage loans after we graduate and how it is possible to live comfortably while paying off your debt. As an optometry student, I have been assured by other optometrists that it will not burden you for the rest of your life if you handle your money wisely. However, I still try to minimize the amount of money I owe wherever possible.

One way that I would suggest to reduce your loans as a student is to sign up for the Federal Work-Study program. Many people do not take advantage of this program, and it is a great way to earn money throughout the semester when it’s convenient for your schedule. When filling out an application for financial aid, you can choose to sign up for work study as well. Choosing to partake in work study reduces the amount of federal loans that you take out each semester, and the money does not have to be re-paid.  A student also chooses the amount of hours they can realistically work per week when they sign up, and it can be divided among various departments on campus. However, it is important to note that you should not sign up for 20 hours a week if you realistically will only work 5 of those hours. You will have a larger work study fund in your financial aid package, but your loans will also be reduced by that much. If you are counting on the work study money to help you pay for expenses throughout the semester, it is important to ensure you are able to work the allotted time to earn the money you need.

For me, work study was a great option because I have a small paycheck coming in every two weeks without having to juggle a part-time job outside of school. The money helps to pay for groceries and other expenses throughout the week. While some people may be able to fit in a part time job in their schedule, I knew it would not be possible for me on top of balancing my studies and my sanity. Instead, I am able to work a couple hours here and there throughout the week, during a break in my class schedule or at night. There are plenty of jobs around campus for students. I currently work in the Office of Communications and as a Teaching Assistant in the Optometry Clinical Skills Lab. There are also jobs in the library, the gym, admissions office, etc. Each department offers different shift options so it’s important to look into what kind of hours they require and whether or not it will work with your schedule. Some jobs, like the Learning Resource Center and Hafter Student Community Center, offer weekend shifts if you don’t want to try and schedule another commitment during the week. No matter what your preference is, there are work study jobs to fit everyone’s schedule. Having work study here has been a great way to earn some spending money throughout the week and help me minimize the amount of loans I’ve taken out thus far. Although it may not seem like much in comparison to the cost of going to graduate school, every little bit helps. Make sure to explore the idea if it works for you when filling out your financial aid package!

-Kelsey is a second year optometry student at Salus University

Friday, March 24, 2017

Breaking Free!

Wissahickon Valley Park | Photo Credit:TripAdvisor
As we start to move into the month of April and the weather begins to warm up, so does the pace of exams, finals and practicals. As a student, it can be hard to get outside and enjoy the nicer days when there seems to be endless work to do. However, as stressful as school can be, one of the best ways to deal with it is to get active and exercise. Graduate school makes it a little tougher than college to do that since you’re sitting in class most days from 8-5 and then spending the night studying.  A weekly exercise routine is still possible and important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While some students find relief by hitting the gym before or after a long day of learning, it is understandable that others find the gym tedious or monotonous. Many of us have heard the spiel about the benefits of exercising regularly, both for a student’s mental and physical health. Luckily, the Philadelphia area (and Salus University) offer many different options to help students stay active throughout the year in ways that don’t involve a treadmill or weightlifting. And of course, many options that fall within the tight budget we have as students.

The flowers and trees are beginning to bloom again, making many of the areas parks a perfect place to walk off the studying blues. My personal favorite is the Wissahickon Valley Park in Chestnut Hill. The Wissahickon Creek flows throughout the park surrounding the 50 miles of hiking trails. The trails are offer gorgeous views as you make your way up the mountain. There is also a path for those who prefer to bike or prefer a flatter trail. Alverthorpe Park is only a 5 minute drive from the school, making it a good option when you need a break from the library or just can’t practice in the lab anymore. A quick search on google will reveal more parks and hiking trails in the area, giving someone lots of options when choosing where they would like to go depending on how far they are willing to travel.  

Students and Faculty attend a class in the Hafter Student Community Center 
For those who prefer to stay inside away from the bugs and heat, the Hafter Student Community Center on campus offers intramural sports and exercise classes to beat the monotony of working out. Intramural sports rotate throughout the year; basketball in the fall and volleyball in the spring. There is currently no school sponsored intramural sport during the summer. Even when scheduled games are not happening, you can often find a pick-up game in the Hafter gym of either volleyball or basketball. Workout classes are also offered five days a week, depending on the instructor’s schedule, and the classes vary each day. Pilates, yoga and cycling are just a few of the classes offered and attendance is included in tuition for students. If you want to get a break from campus and venture out, there are also several studios and gyms in the area that you can find on Groupon which make it affordable to branch out and try a new place within a couple miles of Salus University. Martial arts, rock climbing and kick boxing are just a few of the different activities offered in the surrounding area.

If you’re willing to splurge and treat yourself (and have access to transportation), there are a few more fun things I’d recommend trying for a study break. Last summer my friends and I ventured over to New Jersey where we went tubing along the Delaware River. Tickets and rentals came to about $50 for the day on a weekend, but this also included a lunch along the river. While tubing down the river, some of us ventured off the tubes and swam around while others just floated along. We enjoyed a day of sunshine and laughs as all 15 of us tried to stay together along the entire journey. Make sure to secure all your belongings along the ride so you don’t lose anything! It was an awesome way to get away from school and do something active together. Last winter we also took a break one afternoon and ventured to a trampoline park. For less than $20 we got a workout like no other (surrounded by a bunch of little kids and teenagers but we still had fun). While these activities require a little more time and money, they were awesome ways to get active and we enjoyed every minute of it!
Tubing along the Delaware River 

No matter what outlet you’re looking for to get physical, the Philadelphia area has it to offer. Each student has access to the gym on campus, but there are several ways to get creative if you can’t see yourself using it. One of my biggest pieces of advice for surviving graduate school is working small breaks into your routine to give your mind and body a break. I’ve found that it not only makes me feel better, but I’m able to focus and absorb more material while I’m studying. It also makes paying attention in class a little bit easier because I don’t feel so restless all the time. These daily habits not only help you get through the stress of school while here at Salus University, but help to set you up with a healthy routine for the rest of your life. 

-Kelsey is a second year optometry student at Salus University

Friday, March 3, 2017

Planning for the Weekend

Salus University Learning Resource Center

When you think of what a typical week at Salus University will look like, it may not be too different than what you’re experiencing in undergrad. There’ll be classes most days, labs that go a long with most of these classes and then you have time in clinic where you go from observing, to performing some of the skills you learn in lab, to finally performing full comprehensive exams. That’s the part of your schedule that usually doesn’t change a whole lot. Most days I bounce from class, to the library, to the café, to lab, back to the library before I crawl into my bed hopefully by midnight. It’s a long grueling week, but the time you have in the clinic and lab really help break up the monotony of lectures – so take advantage of them! The biggest difference in your schedule from undergrad/real world working life/whatever you have been doing until now is your free time on the weekends.

In undergrad I never had to organize or even think of what I would be doing on the weekends. It was always some combination of time lounging around my fraternity house during the day mixed with a little studying at the library. Nights were always reserved to unwinding with friends or going out on the town (which was in middle of nowhere Pennsylvania so it wasn’t much). However, when you start graduate school your weekends are a lot more valued because it’s the only time you have full days of uninterrupted free time. You don’t have to worry about trying to read an article before your next class or how much time you have to eat lunch before you need to rush off to The Eye Institute. That’s why I learned pretty quickly that planning out how you’re going to utilize your weekends is vital to maintaining self-care, catching up on the tasks you never got to during the week, and preparing yourself for the busy week ahead.

Salus students at Hafter
My biggest tip or advice for Friday nights might sound a little lame, but I’m telling you it’ll be worth it if you listen. Whether your last class on Friday gets done at noon, 3 PM, or 5 PM try to get in two or three hours of solid studying before you let your brain enter “weekend mode”. Chances are you have a test, quiz, or practical the following week, so why not get a jump start? That way, when you have time to relax later that night or that weekend, you can do it soundly with no guilt weighing on your mind. After some studying, I try to leave the rest of Friday night to unwind and give my mind a break. Whether that involves grabbing dinner with friends, catching a movie, or having game night I try to do something social. In the Salus optometry program we’re split into sections so our labs and clinic schedules differ among classmates. Friday nights are the perfect time to catch up with friends and hear about the interesting things they saw in clinic that week or you do what I do and try to talk about anything but school (leave that in the confines of Salus). Sometimes we have Saturday clinic that goes until the late afternoon, but if you’re lucky enough to have Saturday off try to start your morning with something productive that will jump start your day and get you in a positive mindset. For my friends and I that usually involves playing volleyball at the Hafter Student Community Center, or I’ll try and do some cooking to prep for the following week (because who has time to cook), or catch up on the mountains of laundry I have been avoiding. After that, hit the books! If you can commit a few hours of hard work during the day, with productive breaks in between, you’ll feel a lot better when you’re binge watching your favorite show you’ve missed later that night.

Kitchen Bar | Photo Credit:
I’m sure you have all heard of the "Sunday scaries" and I’ll let you know they don’t end in graduate school. But hopefully you’ve been so productive all weekend that Sunday can be more relaxed and you can chase away those Sunday blues with brunch at Kitchen Bar, right down the road from school. Sundays are the day I save for getting all my lectures printed, quizzes studied for, and clinic outfits picked out for the week. I try not to stress myself out too much (unless I have an exam the next day) but get all of those tasks done that will make my week go smoother. And Sunday mornings are always perfect for the dreaded chore that is grocery shopping. If you commit to forcing yourself to get things done during the day you won’t have a worry in the world when you’re relaxing later on.

Weekends are always welcomed as a relief to the stresses of the week, and in graduate school they’re relished even more. By all means everyone’s weekend is going to look different and not everyone has quite the plan like I do, but I truly believe that if you think ahead to what your weekend goals are, it’ll make the next school week free of headaches. You may not think of it if you’re used to being on a meal plan, but trust me cooking takes far too long and is the last thing you want to do after being at school for eight hours. Thankfully weekends offer the hours you need to take care of yourself and your school work so you can continue to be the best student possible and get the most out of every day at Salus University. 

- Chad is a second year optometry student at Salus University